Saturday morning, a phone call redirected our day with the happy news that Allen's parents would be spending the night at his sister's house an hour and a half away. After finishing Ebony's walk and mine (his being longer, with Al), Allen swept through his list and I settled down to work on my PT exercises. When departure time drew near, we decided I could go along to visit and eat with his folks, sister, and brother-in-law. Though brief, it was a lovely, unexpected opportunity for us to see them and catch up a bit. A door opened, and we walked through.
Wednesday after my dental appointment, I proceeded to Chocolate Angel, a cafe and tea room a few doors down. Yes, I note the irony. In my wait to hear from my mom what I should order for her lunch and where we would eat (cafe, her house, or mine), small talk with an employee resulted in a way to get back in touch with a friend and co-worker from 15 years ago. Another door opened, even more surprising than the first. I'm poised on the threshold but haven't yet gotten the number dialed.
Earlier Wednesday morning, I had arrived at the dentist to see an acquaintance from our old church sitting in the waiting room. We greeted each other and chatted along with the office manager, who also attends that church. At a lull in the conversation, Mr. B remarked that a former minister from our former church was talking with a few people about possibly planting a new church in our town. The seed families would be worshiping together monthly to test the waters, and the first gathering would be at a hospital chapel 4 days hence, as in Sunday evening, as in last night.
Allen contacted the minister directly to confirm details, and we went together to the gathering to taste and see the complexion of this community.
To our astonishment, we walked through the door to a family reunion of sorts. Almost all the families of our youth Bible study, a number of men and women we knew separately from adult Bible studies, our closest couple friends there, all these people with whom we had shared 7 years of history... and we all had stories of how we'd heard about this in the most peculiar ways.
We had shut this door behind us 2 years ago for good reasons. The denomination in question is riddled with controversy we were not sorry to leave.
In our new church in a neighboring suburb, we've had trouble finding the community we had spent years building at the previous place. The health required for consistent participation in a Sunday school class or small group just hasn't been there yet. The Bible teaching in the new place maintains an excellent standard, and the core beliefs align well with ours, but it has been frustrating to hear exhortations to community from so many different directions, to feel the need of "real life" community, and not to know how to respond.
A door we never expected has opened, a door to a new-old community with a new-old pastor. The door may or may not become a church plant, and God may or may not confirm whether we belong there, but it was a joy to walk through the door and find familiar faces sardined together for worship, even if it was just for a night.
Allen is working on scheduling a meeting with the pastor to see if the reason we shut the door in the first place will pose a similar problem for us with this new potential church. That's the only next step we know for now. Otherwise, we are praying like the rest of the group, to the God who opens and shuts doors, seeking "by testing [to] discern what the will of God is, what is good and acceptable and perfect" (Romans 12:2), whether that is to persevere where we are in the slow work of building friendships or to turn down this new-old path.
Q: How about you? Has God surprised you lately with any unexpected open doors of opportunity?
As is our usual Monday practice here, I'm giving thanks to the Lord for His goodness, for His steadfast love that endures forever:
~for good surprises
~for worshiping with people whose stories we know and who know ours
~for seeing two of our Bible study
~for the editor's desk my father-in-law made me, which turns out to work well as a laptop stand
~for walking a little farther this week than last
~for Mom's safe return from a ministry trip to the Pacific Northwest
~for the mail carrier bringing our mail to the door along with a package
~for a loved one's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day and sleep-deprived but productive night
~for no cavities at my check-up
~for a referral to a specialist able to deal with my bite problems if/when we can take that on
~for a yummy quiche-and-salad lunch from Chocolate Angel
~and maybe a slice of cake, too
~for a way to contact my friend with whom I'd lost touch over years and peregrinations
~for 59F at dawn on the first day of autumn
~for pulling on my hoodie for a walk
~for the right name for the grey heron at the park
|Introducing Gandalf the Grey Heron. So obvious! Why didn't I see it sooner?|
~for talking and sharing books with kindred spirits
~for no back problems on the drive this time
~for a new photo, drawing, and progress report from the Indian girl we sponsor
|Apparently India has pumpkins, too.|
~for grieving with hope
~for waking on a Sunday with "Worthy Is the Lamb" stuck in my head
~for 2 consecutive nights with 8 hours of sleep
~for many cool mornings to walk early in the park instead of at home
~for minions! The nefarious Dr. Miao has minions! Minions with lethal powers of cuteness and glowing eyes that have already turned one neighborhood family to the dark side!
|No, the minions don't have names yet.|
~for more water rationing, praying for rain
~for chest pain increased again last few days, reminding me to trust the slow work of God
~for a whole day at home today to try not to miss God's glory here and now
(counting the multitude of blessings, #1721-1750)
Linking up today to Ann and Laura: